- Posted February 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Who taught you to love food?
Pizza is a pretty straightforward dish available throughout the world in many fast food joints in the mall and expressway, family restaurants or even fine dining cafes, bistros, restaurants serving Italian, Italian-fusion or even other kinds of cuisine. It has come far and wide from the invention of its modern version in Naples, Italy over a century ago. It is called several names in other countries like pide in Turkey, pite in Albania though pizza is understood in any part of the world.
In its most basic form, a pizza is an oven-baked flat, usually round leavened dough topped with a sauce, cheese and other toppings. With this concept, Italians prepare it in a variety of ways usually with varying toppings. Other countries have adapted it to their own versions to suit cultural preferences and ingredients availability. Restaurants can either be contemporarily designed or traditionally like authentic Italian pizzerias. The basic components is the crust forming the base which can be rolled out and/or hand tossed very thinly as in the case of most traditional Italian pizza or thickly for other versions which hold more toppings like deep dish or stuffed crust varieties popularized in the United States. Toppings vary from the most basic olive oil, tomato, basil and buffalo milk mozzarella cheese to countless other varieties. Some popular Italian flavors include margherita with tomato, mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil; romana with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oregano; capricciosa with artichokes, cooked ham and olives and the plain looking but calorie-rich quattro formaggi translated as “four cheese”.
The original pizzas of old were baked in wood fired ovens. These are still in use in traditional pizzerias. Other restaurants even recreate these ovens and display them at the front of the house so people can watch their orders coming out piping hot from the oven to their table. Modern restaurants which serve it by the dozen usually have an electric oven with top and bottom heating elements and a built in conveyor belt which rolls them in and cooks them at a precise time so they come out consistent. Tools in making and serving include the long-handled peel, pizza stone (for home cooking to recreate the effect of a brick oven) and pizza wheel.
With globalization taking foreign dining concepts to every corner of the world, small entrepreneurs and multinational franchise companies have taken this popular food to the masses who will not ever set foot in Italy. Shakey’s and Domino’s have set up franchises with multi-restaurant presence in several countries. They often compete aggressively for market share with campaigns like discount deals, loyalty cards and promotions like “we deliver in time or it’s free”. Independently owned pizzerias boast of giant pizzas the size of a dining table that can serve dozens of people. Innovations in the world of pizza preparation and presentation have come a variety of ways. Different countries make their own flavors which others might find unusual: Japan makes mochi which makes use of a crust of glutinous rice flour while India tops theirs with chicken tandoori. There are also dessert pizzas which use sweet toppings of thickened milk or cream and fruits. Pizza can also be made at home from scratch or bought from the supermarket frozen.